If your children don't want your physical affection, and you continually ignore this, you are creating a relationship that makes them uncomfortable

Children don’t owe anyone affection

Recently a relative described my 3 year old as “cold”.

Because she did not interact in the way that a relative believed she should. She did not want to be hugged and kissed by them. She had not seen this relative for months, nor did she have a particularly special bond. Nor does my child like being particularly cuddly with anyone apart from myself and my partner.

My child should not need to have me justifying her needs not to be constantly expected to hug, cuddle, kiss or even be touched by others. She has always shown great dislike for this and is clearly upset by the poking and prodding to “give me a kiss” or “just a hug goodbye”.

I feel like at times I’m in defence mode trying to deflect others and shield her as much as I can from her discomfort from others intrusions. At the same time I’m seen as the person who is putting myself between her and the people intruding. I’m seen as the annoying over bearing parent. Sometimes I feel like I have failed my child by not being more forthright. These are adults after all. These are the people that should know better.

I wish people would understand that No Child owes them affection, for anything. Full stop.

I wish people could learn the following.

No child should feel intruded upon and have their personal space not respected. Honestly, if a child  looks distressed or upset because you “must have a hug”, then pull your head in. Think about how uncomfortable this is for someone small to have a large person demanding they give them physical affection. Reverse the scenario, put yourself in their shoes.

No child is trying to hurt you or is making a personal statement about their feelings towards you. If a child doesn’t want you to hug them, don’t take it personally. Get a grip.

We should want children to speak out about their body, to confidently say when they don’t want people to touch them or they don’t want a hug. This is so they can learn about advocating their wishes for bodily autonomy and how people respecting this should listen. We should be listening and respecting their words or actions. Compliancy and obedience around physical affection are obviously dangerous when we think of risks of sexual abuse.

Some autistic children find hugging uncomfortable and even painful. This should be kept in mind.

If children don’t want your physical affection and you continually ignore this, you are creating a relationship that makes them uncomfortable. You are making your needs for affection more important than their needs for comfort and trusting that this adult in their life listens to them. And you are asking to be that awful adult in their life many of us remember from childhood that made us feel uncomfortable. Don’t be that person.








1 reply
  1. Sasha Hill
    Sasha Hill says:

    Totally Agree!!!!!

    This is very interesting, as I too face these issues with my own child who is much older than the one in the article. When someone tries to embrace a child and he/she refuses, that person sees it as disrespectful and hurtful; the child on the other hand sees this as you trying to force them into an uncomfortable situation, one that may even be hurtful for a child with an invisible disability. Hmmmm……….a point for interjection and explanation to both.

    To be honest it use to be very embarrassing, and a bit overbearing as I too, never totally understood the reason why on some occasions, my child refused affection, even from some close relatives, while on other occasions, she will hug some persons excessively and with an extremely firm embrace (which may be too firm for their comfort at times). There have been comments, feelings being hurt of course and most times all are left in an uncomfortable position, including the child, over the years. And I having to constantly act as a cushion between my child and the third party, trying to comfort my child on one end, as well as trying to cushion the hurt and explain the situation, so that there isn’t any misunderstanding on the other end. It is always a challenging and emotional moment, for a mother who is trying to understand what is going on with her own child, and at the same time trying to offer comfort and shield other people’s feelings. So we too are caught in the web and we crave for understanding. But we must also understand that if someone isn’t aware of the challenge a child is faced with, they may not be as understanding as we hope.

    I can definitely attest to what this mother is going through, as I too have been there and I am still there, but knowledge is definitely power and now that I am aware that children with Autism can have these sensory issues, in different ways, it makes way for greater understanding. That is the reason, why we need to have more awareness and acceptance, so that the once ignorant individuals can be enlightened, which will reduce much arrogance, discomfort and misunderstanding on both ends.

    Sharing is caring and we all need to be aware, so we don’t push our children into uncomfortable situations. We also need to be careful not to teach them to just do things, others require of them, even when it makes them uncomfortable. We don’t want to open our children up to the monster of abuse. A better way to handle the situation is to make our families and friends more knowledgeable about the issues by spreading the awareness and also help our children to better understand what is happening to them. This will help them make wise and independent decisions, while they are understood and accepted as individuals who are different yes, but never less. In the end everyone who is involved are left knowledgeable and mindful of each other and as such respect each other’s wishes, irrespective of age, stage, ability or disability.

    We all need to be mindful that children on a whole, but more so those with Autism, are literal thinkers and as such they act likewise. Let us all ensure to be educated on these disorders, so that we will have a better understanding of what the symptoms are and how to treat them accordingly. On that note we all must do our part…….spread the word for awareness, acceptance and better understanding. Join the cause and help us to create a better and safer environment for our children. APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH……….BUT WE SHOULD TRY TO MAKE EVERY DAY AN AWARENESS DAY, NOT JUST FOR AUTISM BUT FOR ALL DISABILITIES!!!!


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